I should start by explaining the idea for this article came this past weekend. Each member of my entire family, except my husband, has had some kind of stomach “bug” in the past week. As I am writing this article, we kept our son out of preschool today as a precaution.
Now, it is not practical to put our children in a protective bubble and expect them to survive the school year without picking up some kind of “bug”, cold or other contagian. There are some simple techniques to employ that may keep the risk of bringing home an illness to the homefront!
Illness can lead to loss of valuable school time for children. Children can miss important learning opportunities. Yes, work can be made-up but, learning can be impacted. The Maryland School Attendance Fact Sheet clearly makes the argument that keeping children healthy for school is vital to their success in the classroom.
Simple Techniques for the Family:
- Frequent Hand Washing – with soap and water ;-) Let your child know that even if we can’t see or smell germs they are there so, we need to wash everytime we go to the bathroom and before we eat anything!
- Keep Our Hands Away From Our Face – This is very hard for kids of all ages. By touching their hands to their mouths, noses or eyes they are introducing more germs and my transfer viruses and other “bugs”.
- Eating Right – Eating the rainbow and following the food pyramid is a goal. Not everyone is perfect but, helping children make the right choices is the goal. A treat every now and then is not harmful but, everything in moderation.
- Cover Our Mouth and Nose When We Cough or Sneeze – In our family it is refered to as the “germ corner”. By coughing and sneezing into their elbows, children are limiting the spray of germs or “bugs” while not getting it on their hands to transfer to others.
- Keep Hydrated – Once a child is dehydrated it may be too late. Water is the most important drink for children, followed by milk and then limited fruit juice. Tell children that the drinking washes out the inside of their bodies, just like washing their bodies on the outside.
- Get Rest – In order to give their bodies the energy to keep their bodies going, children need more sleep then they are getting on averag in the USA. If you are unsure how much sleep your child should be getting check this chart from WebMD or, speak to your pediatrician.
- Get Your Vaccinations – This is extremely important for school-aged children. The State of Maryland mandates certain vaccination for enrollement in public schools. Parents should also get flu shots every year for every member of the household. The Harford County Health Department also holds vaccination clinics. Harford County usually has a Flu Clinic held again at Ripken Stadium in October. At the time of this article the Clinic telephone recording stated that there is no seasonal flu clinics scheduled for this year but, to check back to their website for updates.
- Stay Home If You Are Sick – It is hard if you are a parent who works outside the home to have a sick child and have to keep them home and possibly miss work. It is a true balancing act. As a teacher I am begging you to keep your child home if he or she is sick. Its just the responsible thing to do. Subjecting an entire classroom, school, bus line, day care, etc. to your child’s “bug” or illness is just unwise!